In her article, “Social Security Disability Insurance is Vital to Workers with Severe Impairments: Program’s Growth Largely Due to Demographic Factors; Financing Should Be Addressed as Part of Overall Solvency,” The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Kathy Ruffing makes her case for saving the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) that policymakers and the Congressional Budget Office predict will be depleted in 2016.
If the SSDI trust fund, which is separate from the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund for the Social Security retirement program, is allowed to run dry, beneficiaries will see about a 20% reduction in their checks in the first year. If policymakers cannot agree on a solvency package by 2016, Ruffing suggests as a solution the reallocation of payroll taxes between the retirement and disability funds- a traditional method which was last put into effect in 1994.
Addressing recent criticism of SSDI’s high numbers of enrollment and its perceived laxness, Ruffing attributes the growth of the program to the following main factors: the baby-boomer population entering its high-disability years, the large number of insured women (women who have worked enough to qualify for disability insurance) catching up to the male labor force, and the increase in the Social Security retirement age. In addition, there are factors related to legislative change, the surprisingly high number of physically demanding jobs or difficult working conditions associated with older workers, the fast pace of globalization and technology that might make obtaining jobs harder for those with both a disability and limited education, the rising cost of health insurance, and the economic decline of the past several years.
Also included in the document are several researchers’ proposals that could fundamentally change the SSDI and related programs. Information about this and details about the current outlook of the program as well as the CBPP’s recommendations for its solvency can be found here.